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David Kopay

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David Marquette Kopay (born June 28, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois) is a former American football running back in the National Football League who in 1975 became one of the first professional athletes to come out as gay.

Kopay attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. He entered the University of Washington in 1961 and became an All-American running back in his senior year. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He played pro football from 1964 to 1972. After he retired from the NFL, he was considered a top contender for coaching positions, but he believes he was snubbed by professional and college teams because of his sexual orientation. He went to work as a salesman/purchaser in his uncle's floorcovering business in Hollywood. He is also a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation.

His 1977 biography, The David Kopay Story, written with Perry Dean Young, offers insights into the sexual proclivities of heterosexual football players and their homophobia. In 1986, Kopay also revealed his brief affair with Jerry Smith (1943–1986), who played for the Washington Redskins from 1965–1977 and who died of AIDS without ever having publicly come out of the closet.

Since Kopay, only two additional former NFL Players have come out as gay, Roy Simmons in 1992, and Esera Tuaolo in 2002. Kopay has been credited with inspiring these athletes to be more open about their sexual orientation.

Kopay appears as himself in a small but pivotal role in the film Tru Loved (2008). His scene features young actor Matthew Thompson and Alexandra Paul.

Kopay became a Gay Games Ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games. He came to Gay Games VII in Chicago in July 2006 and was a featured announcer in the opening ceremonies.

Kopay announced in September 2007 that he will be leaving $1 Million as an endowment to the University of Washington Q Center.


  • Kopay, David (1977). The David Kopay Story: An Extraordinary Self-Revelation. Arbor House Pub Co, 247 pages. ISBN 0877951454. 
  • — Dave Kopay: Still Going Strong
  • [1] - Football Player Who Came Out in 70s Scores Film Role
  • [2] - Dave Kopay, Pioneer Gay Athlete, Joins Cast of Film TRU LOVED

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